Submitted by Don Doman
It all started with a Deodar cedar, which is native to the Himalayan Mountains of northern India. Unfortunately, it was growing in our front yard at the southwest corner of our home. It pollinated twice a year and covered the deck, the driveway and the cars with golden pollen. On the roof it deposited what seemed like millions of needles. It cast a shadow over the entire south end of our home and parking area. The pollen made breathing difficult for my wife. The tree had to go. Apex Tree Experts cut it down. It fell exactly where they said it would. Once the tree was down it took us years to decide how to replace it.
We decided on a sculpture rather than another tree. We have a madrona near our deck. The madrona is an evergreen tree with rich orange-red bark. Peg’s father, Ivan loved madronas. It burns long and hot, even better than oak. Deer eat the new growth and both deer and raccoons eat the berries. We have both deer and raccoons visit our yard. We prefer the deer. They visit our home frequently. We thought a metal sculpture with shapes echoing the limbs and the color of the madrona would be perfect. I knew a metal artist who could do the work, Jennifer Weddermann.
Actually, Jennifer is a licensed architect with a strong emphasis in functionality and sustainability, and a LEED Accredited Professional. As a welder, she has worked with steel for many years. Using traditional blacksmithing techniques and modern laser cutting to make forms that are fabricated into furnishings, public and private art, architectural elements, and signage. If you’ve ever driven through Ruston, you may have seen her octopus and starfish combination benches and bike racks.
From design to completion it took about two years. We had the metal laser cut in King County. We discussed reveals and shadows with Jennifer. We had the foundation dug and poured. Jennifer brought the individual panels and began laying them out and welding.
I think my favorite feature on the sculpture are the blossoms, they don’t match the actual blossoms, but we have multiple flowers hanging from our trees. On the sculpture, the flowers have six inch stems. The shadows of the stems reach several feet long as the sun shifts to the west. The colors and shadows mean almost constant movement, which is excellent for a weighted object that simply stands its ground.
The sculpture is done, but its surroundings will keep changing. We talk about what we want growing behind the sculpture, so we can see colors and movement from the wind “inside” it. Our flowering yucca plant seems to bend toward the afternoon sun in the same direction and action as our sculpture. I think that corner of our yard has taken on a life of its own. We are naming the piece, Madrona Deer Park after our tree and the yard deer who visit us often. The cut-outs and reveals of the sculpture make their own impressions of antlers and tree trunks and limbs. As the metal rusts it will take on even a closer resemblance to the color and texture of the madrona bark. Like the tree, the sculpture is a living embodiment of our home.